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Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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TAKE IT FROM US; POLITICIANS CAN'T BE TRUSTED TO DRAW ELECTORAL MAPS: Our states — Maryland and North Carolina — are among the most gerrymandered in the country. Take a look at our congressional district maps, and you will see some absurd-looking districts. This is no artistic statement; it is a scheme to concentrate one party’s voters — often using race as a proxy for party affiliation — in as few districts as possible, while spreading out another party’s voters into a larger number of districts that can still be comfortably won. Gerrymandering also has a toxic, polarizing effect on the conduct of elected officials. It makes them more beholden to the party leaders who draw the boundaries than to the voters who live within them. The fear of a primary challenger backed by their party leader forces them to fall into line and focus on the narrow interests of the party and its more stalwart voters. They become less responsive to the full spectrum of needs in their district, and common ground and the common good take a back seat to a safe seat. It is just wrong.
https://www.wral.com/roy-cooper-larry-hogan-take-it-from-us-politicians-can-t-be-trusted-to-draw-ele...

Saturday News: Because it's 2019, not 1919

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JUDGE TELLS NC CHARTER SCHOOL IT CAN'T FORCE GIRLS TO WEAR SKIRTS: A North Carolina charter school promoting traditional values engaged in unconstitutional sex discrimination by requiring girls to wear skirts, a federal judge has ruled. U.S. District Judge Malcolm Howard ruled that Charter Day School can't enforce the skirts-only rule as part of its dress code that punishes violations with suspensions and even expulsion. No child has been expelled for violating the dress code since the school opened in 2000, Howard said in a decision filed on Thursday. "All I wanted was for my daughter and every other girl at school to have the option to wear pants so she could play outside, sit comfortably, and stay warm in the winter," Bonnie Peltier said in a statement provided by the ACLU. "But it's disappointing that it took a court order to force the school to accept the simple fact that, in 2019, girls should have the choice to wear pants."
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article228580199.html

Friday News: Equal means equal

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TRIO OF LGBTQ BILLS INTRODUCED IN NC HOUSE: House Democrats introduced three gay rights bills on Thursday that would repeal the remains of HB2; make it illegal to practice conversion therapy on minors and disabled adults; and expand North Carolina’s anti-discrimination laws to include gender identity, sexual orientation and military or veteran status. House Bills 514, 515 and 516 were announced at a news conference in the legislative building by some of the bills’ sponsors and representatives from LGBTQ advocacy groups. “This historic slate of legislation is a collective effort towards making life more equitable and safe for queer North Carolinians who deserve the basic dignity of living, loving and growing without fear of prejudice or violence,” said Kendra R. Johnson, executive director of Equity North Carolina, who attended the event. “Together, we can build a state that enables LGBTQ folks from all walks of life to prosper and show the world that North Carolina truly is a beautiful place to be queer.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article228543209.html

Thursday News: Fascist state

NC REPUBLICANS WANT TO FORCE SHERIFFS TO HELP ICE: Republicans said Wednesday that since multiple sheriffs around the state were elected in 2018 on anti-ICE platforms, it’s necessary to change state law to force them to work with ICE. In North Carolina, county jails are run by the local sheriff. “These sanctuary sheriffs are putting politics ahead of public safety,” said Republican Rep. Destin Hall of Caldwell County, who sponsored the bill. But Democrats said it’s an overreaching government policy that insults voters and law enforcement alike. “Who are we to tell our law enforcement officials, who were elected recently, how to behave?” asked Rep. Wesley Harris, a Democrat from Charlotte, where the local sheriff’s race was one of the races won by a candidate who spoke out against ICE, Sheriff Garry McFadden.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article228479074.html

Wednesday News: A win for choice

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JUDGE RULES NC'S 20 WEEK BAN ON ABORTIONS IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL: North Carolina’s ban on women having abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy is unconstitutional, a federal court ruled Monday. But the ruling won’t go into effect immediately. The judge gave state lawmakers 60 days to either write a new abortion law or appeal his ruling. The ruling was a win for Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the ACLU who sued to overturn the law. “All decisions about pregnancy, including abortion, are deeply personal and should be decided between a woman and her doctor, without medically-unnecessary interference from politicians,” said Jenny Black, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, in a press release. “This ruling affirms that right and (sends) a clear message to politicians that women deserve our care, not our judgment.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article228421354.html

Tuesday News: Trying to get cute

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LEWIS AND HISE GET SPANKED BY 3-JUDGE PANEL OVER PRIVILEGE: This state-level lawsuit targets legislative districts, accusing Republican leaders of drawing maps so unfairly stacked against Democrats that they violate the state constitution. As part of the suit, 10 current or former legislators and two staffers claimed legislative privilege, allowing them to opt out of answering questions. But as a deadline approached, two of those legislators – Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, and Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, who chaired key redistricting committees – reversed themselves, seeking to testify. The late change caused problems for Common Cause's suit, the group said, because various reports were due within days and the group's attorneys had not deposed Lewis or Hise. Judges Paul Ridgeway, Joseph Crosswhite and Alma Hinton agreed with Common Cause that letting Lewis and Hise waive privilege this late in the process "would provide an unfair benefit." As a result, all 12 people who claimed privilege in the case will get it, and some testimony from Lewis and Hise may be blocked during the coming trial.
https://www.wral.com/court-sides-with-common-cause-over-legislative-privilege/18283709/

Monday News: What happened to Cecil?

UNC BOG STILL BEING COY OVER ECU CHANCELLOR DISMISSAL: In the days before the meeting, Long said that Board Chairman Harry Smith had orchestrated Staton’s departure. Smith denied having anything to do with it, saying Roper had handled the matter. Also at the press conference, a reporter asked about Staton’s resignation. In announcing it on Monday, Staton did not describe events leading to the resignation except to say, “I did not initiate this.” A reporter asked Roper on Friday who did. In response, Roper said, “On behalf of the university system, we thank Chancellor Staton for his service at ECU and wish him the very best in his future endeavors.” The reporter pressed, saying, “That doesn’t answer the question.” Roper said, “I don’t have a legal obligation to answer your question.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article228288279.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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MEADOWS SLIDES ON TRUMP'S SLIPPERY SLOPE OF TRUTH: During the hearing a much-animated Meadows complained of Cohen’s “insatiable desire for celebrity” and in a heated exchange said: “I’m concerned about your lies today.” While dogged during the hearing in demanding the truth from Cohen, he’s been more of a lap dog when it comes to setting the same standard of President Donald Trump. Meadows hasn’t uttered a word of concern – much less an ounce of outrage, about a president who has offered 9,179 false or misleading claims through March 17 – his 787th day in office, according to The Washington Post FactChecker. During the hearings Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland, might have come close to explaining Meadows’ frustration and double standard. "Our colleagues aren't upset because you lied to Congress for the president,” he said seeming to address Cohen but really Meadows and others on the committee and those watching. “They're upset because you've stopped lying to Congress for the president."
https://www.wral.com/editorial-meadows-slides-on-trump-s-slippery-slope-of-truth/18269417/

Saturday News: It's Mueller time

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TRUMP-RUSSIA PROBE HAS CONCLUDED WITH NO ADDITIONAL INDICTMENTS: With no details released at this point, it's not known whether Mueller's report answers the core questions of his investigation: Did Trump's campaign collude with the Kremlin to sway the 2016 presidential election in favor of the celebrity businessman? Also, did Trump take steps later, including by firing his FBI director, to obstruct the probe? All told, Mueller charged 34 people, including the president's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and three Russian companies. Twenty-five Russians were indicted on charges related to election interference, accused either of hacking Democratic email accounts during the campaign or of orchestrating a social media campaign that spread disinformation on the internet. Five Trump aides pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with Mueller and a sixth, longtime confidant Roger Stone, is awaiting trial on charges that he lied to Congress and engaged in witness tampering.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/national-politics/article228303174.html

Friday News: Cracking the whip

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INTERIM PRESIDENT WANTS FIRING POWER OVER UNC PROFS WHO HOLD BACK GRADES: Teachers at UNC schools who intentionally withhold grades — to protest university policies or actions, for example — can be fired, the UNC system’s Board of Governors was told Thursday. Interim UNC President Bill Roper asked Arden to say again whether professors could be fired for withholding grades. Yes, Arden said. “It was threatened, I know that,” Roper said. He said it was frustrating to hear such a threat used because withholding grades “harms a lot of people.” On hearing of the threat last fall, Roper said, it made him think of the adage, “There ought to be a law,” to prevent or punish such willful dereliction of duty.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article228244699.html

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